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House Republicans Preparing Backup Plan For Debt Ceiling

Congress has until May 19 to make a decision on raising the debt ceiling.
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Congress has until May 19 to make a decision on raising the debt ceiling.

House Republicans are preparing a backup plan in case Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling — an outcome that could make borrowing more expensive. Congress suspended the requirement to raise the debt ceiling earlier this year. The suspension expires May 19.

The Treasury Department has some breathing room, but lawmakers on Capitol Hill aren't moving any closer to a deal, which has House Republicans pushing forward a bill that would order the administration to pay off its bondholders while also issuing new debt.

Virginia Republican Rob Wittman says its good to have a plan B. "I do think it's a contingency in case we don't get there," says Wittman. "I want us to get there though."

But Rep. John Delaney, D-Md. says it's a terrible contingency. He says there shouldn't even be a debate over raising the debt ceiling. But if the U.S. does default, Delaney says prioritizing payments would send a signal to the world that the U.S. weak.

"You wouldn't talk about prioritizing someone's debts unless you were worried about some of the debts not being paid, so I think it's incredibly dangerous, and it's incredibly naïve."

The last time Congress wrangled over the debt ceiling, the U.S. lost its Triple-A credit rating. Maryland and Virginia could also be downgraded if Congress gets into another protracted budget battle.

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